CHAPTER 9 THE SHUSHI KHANATE (AVSHARS, KERIM ZEND KHAN, THE QAJAR INHERITANCE)

Again the struggle for the Catholicos’ residence broke out in Karabakh. It was not only an ecclesiastical split between the two wings of Gandzassar and Yeritsmankats monastery but an uncontrolled struggle between the two rivals of Gandzak and Shushi Khanates. Everybody in the district, prince or peasant, bishop or higher clergy was engaged in the struggle, as if the fate of the country depended upon this problem. The rule of the Albanian Catholicossate passed to the Nerses Catholicos after the death of Yessayi-Hassan-Jalalian. Nerses belonged to Jraberd, who according to the written obligation to the Catholicos of all Armenians had no right to appoint any of his relatives an heir to the title, but transfer the ecclesiastical rule to the legitimate owners, that is to the Khachen lords of the Jalalian family. Nerses had also promised to reside in Gandzassar, but he didn’t go there, perhaps avoiding submission to the Shushi Khan. His preferred residence was the Yeritsmankats monastery, not far from Jraberd. After the meliks left the country, his residence was transferred to Gandzak. In 1763 the 120-years old Catholicos Nerses, sensing his death, broke his promise given to Echmiadzin and appointed his nephew Archbishop Israel the Albanian Catholicos, in the presence of Armenian meliks and military commanders. After Nerses’ death the religious representatives of the subject regions of Shaki (Nokhut-Nukhi), Shemakhi, Derbent, Baku were invited to Gandzak, where in the Church St. Hovhannes the Yeritsmankats monastery bishop Israel was ordained as the Catholicos of Albania. It is said that observing that the number of archbishops was less than was needed to consider the consecration legitimate, Shahverdi Khan himself dressed like an archbishop and took part in the ceremony. The Catholicos of all Armenians Simeon demanded that Israel should go to Echmiadzin to be consecrated Albanian Catholicos, but Israel refused to go. Some time later the Khamsa meliks, about fifty of them, took the Gandzassar monastery bishop Hovhannes Jalalian to Echmiadzin and asked the Simeon Catholicos to ordain him. Albanian Catholicos, the Gandzak Khan too supported the meliks in the matter. But Simeon refused the request on the grounds that Israel was already ordained Catholicos of Albania. The delegates felt hurt, but returning to Gandzassar they themselves ordained Hovhannes. The Catholicos of all Armenians was persuaded to accept this candidate, as Israel continued to refuse to reside in Gandzassar. Simeon published a decree and sent it to Karabakh ordering not to recognize Israel as a Catholicos of Albania.24 Thus the attempt to heal the split was unsuccessful, moreover it added up to the split in the communuty and the whole region suffered from this fact politically. Israel was backed by the Gandzak Khan, while Hovhannes was patronized by Ibrahim Khan of Shushi. Israel strengthened his positions often applying to the foreign rulers for help, ignoring interests of the motherland. The next step was to win the favour of the meliks. This campaign too was victorious for Ibrahim and Israel. Ibrahim conducted direct negotiations with the Giulistan Melik, suggesting to forget enmity and live in peace. The only thing Hovsep wanted the Khan to do, was not to interfere in his affairs without invitation. The Gandzak Khan was against this agreement between the Giulistan Melik and Ibrahim Khan. The atmosphere became tense. The Giulistan Melik left for Georgia.25 The circumstances were beneficial to Ibrahim Khan.

The dissatisfaction of the neighbouring countries with the Gandzak Khan was on the increase and as a result the allied army of Husein Khan of Shamakhi, Ibrahim Khan and the Shamshadin advanced to Gandzak. Shahverdi Khan applied to the Jari highlanders for help in return for numerous treasures. But soon managing to come to an agreement with Ibrahim and Husein khans, cuncluded a peace treaty with them. The mob of the Avar-Lezgian highlanders, who had already arrived to support Gandzak, was sent to plunder the settlements in the Yerevan province. One of the heads of Armenian liberation movements Hovsep Emin was among the Avarians. He was born in 1726 in the Homadan city of Iran, in the family of a local merchant.26 He was brought up on the stories about the brave defenders of the Armenian Sghnakhs and was dreaming of being capable to serve the motherland and do his best to restore the once mighty state of Armenia. Soon the family moved to India, where the young Emin became acquanted with the latest military technics and navy structures and made a resolute decision to go to Europe to continue his education and work there for some time if possible and then go to Karabakh to support the Armenian meliks to restore the monarchy in his native land. In 1751 on February 14, he secretly left for England. Here he established close relations with the London ruling circles, came in touch with the vangards of scientific progress. He entered the Royal Military Academy in London. In 1756 he took part in the war with France. Then entered the service of the Russian King. In his letter addressed to the Georgian King Hercule he wrote that he was patronized by the English prince and asked his permission to serve in the Gedorgian army as a European officer and teach the Georgian soldiers the European tactics, to enable them to fight “like the Europeans”. At last in 1759 Emin left England for Armenia. He reached Echmiadzin via Turkey. Hakob Shemakhetsi had just been consecrated Catholicos of all Armenians. Following the example of the Georgian King Hercule and his father Teimuraz the new Catholicos in his turn applied to the Russian Empress for help against the Lezgi highlanders and begged to support Teimuraz who had left for Russia.

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